Oral Answers to Questions — Rural Transport

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th May 1963.

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Photo of Sir Rupert Speir Sir Rupert Speir , Hexham 12:00 am, 16th May 1963

asked the Prime Minister whether he has now been able to give consideration to the case for assisting and improving the public transport services in the rural areas of Great Britain as put to him by the deputation led by the hon. Member for Hexham which he received last December; and whether he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Jasper More Mr Jasper More , Ludlow

asked the Prime Minister what consideration he has given to the improvement of rural transport, following the deputation which he received last December; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

Final decisions on this matter ought to take account of the special studies of rural transport which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport has had made. I understand that the full results of these studies are expected by the end of June.

Photo of Sir Rupert Speir Sir Rupert Speir , Hexham

While thanking the Prime Minister for the personal interest that he is now taking in this problem, may I ask him whether he realises the intense irritation which exists in rural areas of Britain at the failure of the Government to get a move on on this problem? Does he realise that it is more than eleven years ago since the Conservative Party in its Election Manifesto promised better services. Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that it is more than two years ago since Professor Jack's Committee reported on the role of these services. Does my right hon. Friend realise that the National Association of Parish Councils considers that the surveys to which he has referred are so unnecessary and such a waste of time and money that they are not cooperating on them?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

The services will be very much improved. It is a question of the cost of them. I regret the delay. but I hope that it will not now be long before a decision is made.

Photo of Mr Jasper More Mr Jasper More , Ludlow

Have the Government no concern for the increasing difficulties facing the small independent bus operators who have served our country districts so well in years past.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

Yes. That fact will be borne in mind.

Photo of Mr Albert Hilton Mr Albert Hilton , South West Norfolk

As a member of the deputation that the Prime Minister was good enough to see some time ago, may I ask him whether he is aware that when the Beeching Plan is implemented the already inadequate rural transport services will be worsened? Will he give an assurance that before any railway stations are closed—especially in Norfolk—roads will be improved, so that they are able to carry the increased volume of traffic thrown on to them?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

It is a question of the profitability of the rural bus services, but I would have thought that if passengers are conveyed only upon the roads, rather than divided between the trains and the roads, it should help the bus services.